Starlink in the Canadian north

2021-02-10

in Canada, Economics, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Space and flight

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation promises to provide low-latency high-bandwidth internet to anyone on the planet.

In November or so, the company announced a beta release in Canada. Some northern communities are already being connected, notably Pikangikum in northwestern Ontario with the charitable assistance of FSET Information Technology and Service.

With my brother Mica starting to teach at the Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchoko, about 125 km down the highway from Yellowknife, we both wondered whether the satellite internet package might be useful for them.

So far, I have found three explanations for why Starlink isn’t available in the region yet:

  1. SpaceX doesn’t yet have the necessary satellites to support access from that latitude
  2. SpaceX needs ground stations in areas where there will be customers
  3. Starlink needs to negotiate with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) for use of the Ka radio band

I have reached out to bureaucrats and people in ministers’ offices to try to get authoritative information on what the issue is.

This post — based around this map — shows a station in Kaparuk, Alaska. I sent a message to the map’s creator for verification, since I can’t see how satellites going from pole to pole could cover Alaska but not the Canadian territories. This post shows a Starlink ground station in St. John’s Newfoundland.

If you have any relevant information please contact me. If you are also looking into getting a Starlink connection in northern Canada I don’t have any further information for now but I will provide updates when I do.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. February 10, 2021 at 2:34 pm
Milan February 10, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Starlink – Pikangikum’s Journey

. February 18, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Starlink’s growing popularity could change the competitive dynamics of Canada’s telecommunications industry, according to some analysts. The company is beginning to capture market share in rural areas, where customers typically pay more for slower, less reliable internet connections.

Canadian telecoms, including rural provider Xplornet Communications Inc., rely on fixed wireless technology, which allows for a fibre-optic network to be extended with wireless signals, or slower, geostationary satellites to serve remote parts of the country. (Xplornet also offers home phone service.)

So far, Starlink has more than 1,000 of its planned 12,000 satellites in orbit, and demand for the service is “strong and widespread,” the company said in the FCC filing. More than 10,000 customers in Canada and the United States have already signed up, and hundreds of thousands of others have expressed interest in the service when it becomes available in their areas – “even without any formal advertising,” the company wrote.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-elon-musks-starlink-unveils-us-voice-service-plans/

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